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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in design thinking

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

I have a confession to make. I've become obsessed with Design Thinking. It's gotten to the point where I "Design Thinking" everything. How do I Design Thinking my lunch? How do I Design Thinking my classroom phone policy? How do I Design Thinking teaching?

Teaching? Yep. Let's do that.

What I love about Design Thinking is that it's flexible. There are teaching approaches out there that tell us what to do, but it makes more sense for every teacher to teach differently every year, because we each get different students.

Think about it. We don't treat all our friends and family the same. Our interactions with them are largely based on our experience of who they are and what makes them tick. Teaching is the same way. One size fits all approaches do not work.

The challenge is that, in the grand scheme of things, we only know our students for a short time. However, personalization of education is not a fad; it's a thing. So. let's use the Design Thinking Cycle (Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing) to improve Teaching, shall we?

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Last year, I participated in more Twitter chats than I can count.  I co-hosted 2 Edcamps and went to a national conference.  I even traveled to Australia to present at a conference!  But, there was one professional development experience that surpassed any of those events by far; and it didn't cost me anything.  I participated in the inaugural Shadow a Student Challenge!


In my work with design thinking, the foundational premise is based on the concept of gaining empathy to understand how best to help others and solve the right problems.  As a result, School ReTool, IDEO, Stanford's d.schools, and the Hewlett Foundation combined forces to create a movement to excite school leaders in spending a day shadowing a student to provide powerful insights and experiences in better understanding the world we are creating for our students, and how we can make it even better.

Even though we could all say we went to school when we were younger and are surrounded by students all day, shadowing a student, as a student, provides a whole different context.  It took time to blend in and remind myself of the pace of the day and true shifts in the uplifted cognitive rigor in our classrooms.

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Posted by on in Inquiry-Based Learning

Before I left the classroom a few years ago, there were a few items on my bucket list I never got to accomplish (and I would have accomplished them had I taught for just one more year)…One of these missed opportunities was a complete redesign of my classroom.

You see, the final year I taught fourth grade, my students and I started our work in science by learning about the scientific method through the creation of original egg packagings with a process called design thinking. In short (ok, very short), students didn’t just engineer creative products, but they did so with empathy for the consumer in mind. And, they then assessed the effectiveness of their homemade creations based on what they determined to be the indispensible features of an exemplary product (while visualizing themselves in the shoes of the consumer).

My students enjoyed our design thinking work so much, following the egg unit and throughout the year I consistently told them something to the effect of, “Once state testing is done in April, I’ll give you a budget of a few hundred dollars and you can use your experiences with design thinking to revamp our classroom.” Nevertheless, for one reason or another, the overhaul never happened.

Designing Learning Spaces

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Think. Design. Create. Test. Analyze. Think. Design. Iterate. Test. Solve. Improve. Solve better.

Think you're done? Think again!

The Design Thinking Process is really a cycle that looks something like this:


Take the iPhone. Apple releases a new model every year. Why? Profit of course! But, each version is better. It offers something new. Something desirable. Something that solves a past problem and improves the user experience.

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Posted by on in Leadership


Last year, I watched in amazement as leaders exposed the powerful opportunities that are derived when schools provide outlets for students to pursue their passions.  The movement in passion projects has been fueled through the work of leaders like Girish Venkat, Founder & CEO of Thrively, and Angela Maiers, Founder of Choose2Matter, to provide a structured focus for students to explore, extend, and deepen their passions.  But, why should our students have all the fun?

Last week, I shared a blog post addressing my reply when asked how my previous school year went.  With just five words replying to the question of how my year went, I have received smiles, positive feedback, and curious questions that initiated conversations - "I'm Just Getting Warmed Up!"

As I continue to plan and prepare for next year with the many initiatives, strategies, and action plans to address student achievement, school culture/climate, safety, and leadership, I wondered why the students should have all the fun in having passion projects.  Why can't adults have passion projects, too?

With a mixture of concentrated effort and luck have provided me with three of my own passion projects for the upcoming year that I am certain are going to energize me, uplift me, and get me out of bed racing to school every day!

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